Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Greatest Commandment

Consider the question: what is the greatest commandment. What do you think yourself concerning this question? Does your answer have some other reference other than your own thoughts? What is your primary reference for thinking about this question? If Scripture, why? Where does Scripture support what you think about the greatest commandment?

The following is somewhat representative of what a number of students answered in class: Love God above all else and love others as yourself. How is this statement like or unlike what you think? Consider something I said in class the other day - it is good to be able to turn one's face towards God. Following from this will be the ability to face others as well (see the story in Genesis recounting the renaming of Jacob after he struggled with God prior to his reconciliation with his brother Esau).
One perceives oneself properly by giving priority first to God, then others:
Read Mark 12:28-34.

One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?"

Jesus replied, "The first is this: 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, 'He is One and there is no other than he.' And 'to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself' is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

And when Jesus saw that (he) answered with understanding, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Why do you believe what you believe? To what cultural community does your conception of life conform? Might there be some need for transformation so that such conception can be renewed so to give priority to what God considers to be good? Read Romans 12 (consider this chapter within the context of the whole book, especially verses 16-21 of chapter 1, verses 13-25 of chapter 7, verses 24-28 of chapter 8, and verses 8-10 of chapter 13).


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